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Posted by Venks - February 27th, 2014

HomeTown Story: Was this a failure for Natsume?


Natsume has been cranking out Harvest Moon games since the original for the GameBoy in 1998 to the newest installment HomeTown Story for the Nintendo 3DS in 2013. So they know what they are doing don't they?  Harvest Moon games are a good introduction into 'Dating Sims' if you're new to the idea of trying to woo a NPC. Harvest Moon's game play has usually always been: Your character somehow inherits a farm and drops everything to take it over... even though you know NOTHING about farming and now have to listen to someone explain it to you for like a half hour. You start off the year in SPRING, you only get four seasons instead of twelve months. These seasons are spent by growing crops then raising chickens, cows, and other livestock. Foraging and fishing usually tend to be your main source of income throughout the game, more so in the beginning but it's still smart to continue to do so through the game. 


  While trying to make a successful farm you get the option, sometimes mandatory, to woo a bachelor or bachelorette. This leads to countless hours of stalking to learn what they like, where they live, and their schedule through the day and seasons. You little creep you... but it's all worth it because at the end of it they'll love you, even though you sometimes have to read their dairy (Like in Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life/ Harvest Moon: Another Wonderful Life [For the Game Cube]), they fall for you and you have a beautiful baby! 



Now with all that being stated it is in my opinion, don't fight me on this internet, that Natsume has really limited the game play in HomeTown Story. Starting off you are taking over a shop instead of a farm, much like Harvest Moon: My Little Shop, but in this store owning game you do not have the option to farm, to fish, to cook, to just play like any other regular Harvest Moon game! You're forced to open shop and have costumers come browse your wares, but if you're not in the shop they can't pay for it and will sometimes leave angrily. Now I have only brushed the horizon of this game and while yes I can still forage there is no other source of income. 


Standard interactions can be frustrating because sometimes a town person will request something from you and even if you have it in your pockets you can't hand it over. What is the point of town people asking for things when you can't do anything about it? So I have to say that while HomeTown Story is good fun in idea, it isn't as enjoyable to play. Perhaps with more playtime and exploring the features I'll dislike the game less? But honestly I don't think someone should have to invest hours into a game before it becomes fun.   


Now some will argue that HomeTown Story doesn't actually say it's a Harvest Moon game. The Harvest Moon logo on the box art would have us think otherwise. It's quite clear that this game was heavily advertised as a Harvest Moon-esque game. Ask any true fan of Natsume, with our llama plushies, and any one of us will tell you that this game has all the makings of a Harvest Moon game. So it shall be compared to their long legacy! Oh and Rune Factory! Rune Factory is doing it right... but that is for a later article!

Nonetheless please comment and let us know what you think! Did Natsume release a doomed game that will be painfully compared to its long standing Harvest Moon and Rune Factory siblings? OR do you think the HomeTown Story should be considered its own video game, a very flawed one, that should be enjoyed (through gritted teeth)?

Thanks for reading and let us know something else you would possibly want reviewed!

If you liked this article why not check out more at my gaming site Berathen

Posted by Venks - January 2nd, 2014


When you start up some games for the first time you have a very important decision to make (once you've passed the loading screens and company logos). What difficulty to play on? Take it easy and make your way through the story? Or play it on hard to truly challenge yourself?

A rose by any other difficulty would smell as sweet?


Rayman games are known, by the few people who play them, for their difficult platforming. Many platformers allow you to jump at various heights depending on how long you hold the button down, but Rayman is one of the games that will send you to the game over screen if you use your high jumps too frequently. For a long time, in games, it has been a common principle that there needs to be obstacles for the player to overcome. By learning the rules of a game and honing their abilities, players can surpass any challenge. But what if there is no challenge? 

The original Final Fantasy XIII, which I wish was the last story of its saga, was the worst game I think I've ever played in my entire life. And I've played Barbie Super Model for the Super Nintendo. In an attempt to make the game more accessible to new gamers, Square Enix cut out practically everything that makes a RPG a RPG. There are essentially no NPCs to talk to in the game, the bulk of exploration takes place in narrow hall ways, and each character only has three stats. The only thing the game has going for it is that its probably the most aesthetically pleasant game on the PlayStation 3. The lack of challenge and depth left me completely appalled and keeps me hesitant from trying newer titles in the Final Fantasy franchise. 


There are games without challenge that I find myself able to enjoy. Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing are both games that I enjoy even though I don't have to dodge bullet fire. These games do a wonderful job at presenting unique themes, introducing interesting characters, and placing the player in a role that generally can't be found in other games. In Animal Crossing I found myself really enjoying coming across the random villagers that made up my neighbors. These creatures all have their own odd behaviors and choice of words. I could tell the game had a powerful hold over me when one of my favorite neighbors had moved away to a friend's town. I was so sad to see her go, but as an awesome last gesture she had sent me a letter along with a piece of furniture. That piece of furniture just so happened to complete the set I was going for. I couldn't of asked for a better memento to remember my virtual friend.

Master Of Your Own Destiny


The white tanooki suit in Super Mario 3D World seems to be generating some distaste amongst 'retro' gamers. For those of you who don't know, the white tanooki suit is an item that appears after dying multiple times in a row within the same level. The item makes you invincible from enemies and spikes that would normally knock you out. The complaint I see the most is that people who beat levels using the white tanooki suit didn't 'earn' their victory. I honestly look at this as a very out dated line of thinking. Back in the NES days there were a lot of very difficult games. Not everyone wants to spend hours upon hours learning the exact positioning and timing required for intense platforming moments. In today's age of gaming, developers try their best to make their games as accessible as possible so players of any skill level can have fun. A very young player might get frustrated with a particular difficult challenge and the white tanooki suit is there to assist him. A more patient player who finds themselves failing a few too many times will also see the white tanooki suit appear, but by no means is the item mandatory. If you prefer the challenge and want to learn from your mistakes you can ignore the power-up and focus on the problems ahead. It's simply a choice for you to make. 

It's not always apparent to most players, but ignoring certain items is a great way to ramp up the difficulty if it fits your fancy. I've yet to try a 'No Mushroom' run of a Mario game, but I have tried the 'Three Heart Challenge' in Zelda and 'Minimum Level' boss fights in Kingdom Hearts II. By keeping my health low in one game and my experience down in another, I'm able to turn simple hindrances into nightmare inducing spawns of true evil. Player created challenges like these really require you to learn the ins and outs of the mechanics of the game. A single missed dodge or mistimed attack can be your last. This maybe exactly what you're looking for if you feel you need more challenge from your games.

Pick Your Poison


Now some developers literally have you choose between modes of difficulty. Far too few games actually change the game in meaningful ways when you choose a difficulty setting. More times then not the game merely alters a few values such as damage and health. I really enjoyed playing Tomb Raider with my partner in love and crime. When ever she was silly enough to put the controller down I'd steal it for myself and shoot some arrows through some unsuspecting hats. I eventually decided to give the game a go by my lonesome on the hard difficulty. It took me quite some time to figure out what the changes were. I was really hoping for end game enemies and attack patterns to turn up early alongside new threats. Much to my dismay the only differences I could note were my opponents dealt more damage and had more health. Having already played the game a bit I was more then accustomed to dodging molotov cocktails and enemy projectiles. Increasing the damage of these attacks literally has no effect on me since the attacks are unable to land. I'm no Robin Hood but I was having no problem aiming for instant kills with my bow and arrow. Increased health, or not, a killing blow is a killing blow. Even on hard mode action scenes felt too easy and had become repetitive. 


Then we have the beautiful game Catherine. This game has you climbing up a tower of blocks as it slowly collapses. You have to utilize several block pushing/pulling techniques in order to ascend. Trick blocks and annoying fellow climbers will slow you down as the tower seems to collapse that much faster. If puzzles aren't your strong suit I heavily suggest playing it on easy. This game is definitely one of the more challenging ones made now a days. Rather then just changing the amount of time you have to climb the block towers, the difficulty settings actually have their own puzzles. The techniques you have to employ in order to rise from one level to the next change with each difficulty setting. I really wish more games had differing content between modes. Not that I'd cheat on Catherine to be with them. That would be wrong.



Read more gaming articles and check out my games here.

Posted by Venks - December 20th, 2013


This is the game I made for the Ludum Dare 72-hour game development competition. Berathen Jam is a Wario Ware like game that combines a bunch of small micro games to create an action packed, rapid-pace experience

Berathen Jam Guide: http://berathen.com/2013/12/berathen-jam-guide.php

Posted by Venks - November 21st, 2013

Achievements/Trophies/Medals or what have you. Are there games you normally wouldn't play that you do because of their inclusion? Does it increase how much time you'll put into a game? I have to say i've played a lot of games that use achievements in lame ways and its really put me off from them. I go far more into the subject on my blog: http://berathen.com/2013/11/do-you-play-for-achievements.html

Is there a game you like that uses achievements well?

Do You Play For Achievements?

Posted by Venks - November 20th, 2013

I bought the WiiU at launch and well I have to say I feel pretty silly about it. With the only launch titles I was interested in being New Super Mario Bros. Wii U and ZombiU. My console has spent a lot of time collecting dust after I finished those games. Thankfully now there's a lot more out to play and Super Mario 3D World comes out tomorrow.

I'm gonna take a pretty detailed look at the PS4 and make my decision. What about you?

Are you getting a PS4?

Posted by Venks - May 12th, 2013

The campaign for Berathen Spirit Detective has been going exceptionally well thanks to all of you have been liking, sharing, donating, and well going above and beyond to help me. Thank you all so much!

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/berathen-spiri t-detective/x/2635169

I've been going at it for a while now to get this done as fast as possible and well... here it is! The demo for Berathen Spirit Detective! This demo is its own case. The main game will allude to this case, but will not be featuring it. Of course the main game still being a work in production not everything you see in the game will be the same when it is released. I'm always working to improve everything to make it as enjoyable as possible!


Oh and if you guys really enjoy the game, do make sure to vote for the game! If I can get a high score on newgrounds that means more people will get to see the demo and learn about the campaign!

Posted by Venks - April 15th, 2013

Hey Everyone! This is my game Berathen Spirit Detective!
http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/berathen-spiri t-detective

It's a mystery simulation game. While most mystery games are "point and clicks" this game favors a top-down perspective with full control over the young exorcist Terrich Lembton.
Interacting with the world and searching for clues is a breeze with this comfortable control scheme.

It's up to you to search the crime scene, talk to witnesses, examine the evidence, expose all the lies, and find the one truth.
Who murdered Deimos Smith?

I've been working on this game for quite a while now and really hope everyone will find it fun. It combines pretty much
everything I like about RPG games. Lots of unique NPC interaction, exploration, and varied gameplay. I really miss games
like Breath of Fire 3 and Final Fantasy VII that had so much to offer you besides just combat. A lot of games today don't really
do that anymore.

Berathen Spirit Detective IndieGoGo Campaign Now Launched!

Posted by Venks - June 12th, 2012

I've gotten five more backers out of nowhere! I guess everyone is trying to back my project before it hits the deadline. Only 75 minutes remain! If you'd like to back this game Ivan and I made now's your last chance!
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1537889393/b erathen-spirit-detective

Posted by Venks - June 2nd, 2012

Hard at work on the game as usual. I'm in the process of implementing a mini-game which is taking a lot more time then I would like. But hopefully it'll make the game more fun over all. Not the best art at the moment seeing as it was made by me. Hopefully I'll find someone else to do the sprites before the game launches.

Devlog #17

Posted by Venks - June 1st, 2012

Berathen Spirit Detective? Such a silly name.
Berathen Floral Decorator! Now that's a good game right there!

Terrich isn't exactly florist of the year, but we still love him right? Right!?
Anyways this is the newest house and I really like how it turned out. I think I'm getting a real knack for making these houses. I really admire how I used the floor tiles and the use of the extra walls to create more of a 'multiple room' sense.

Devlog #16